Thursday, February 05, 2015

Best Kept Secret (2014)

Best Kept Secret. (Family Tree #3) Ann M. Martin. 2014. Scholastic. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Better To Wish, the first in the series, introduced readers to Abby. The Long Way Home, the second in the series, introduced readers to Dana, Abby's daughter. Best Kept Secret, the third in the series, introduces readers to Francie, Abby's granddaughter, Dana's daughter.

This is Francie's novel. The book spans a little over a decade. Francie's first grade year through her arrival at college her freshman year. (1977-1988) Each chapter captures something significant about her growing up. A chapter could be good and happy (getting a puppy, finding a friend, going on vacation). Or a chapter could be sad and depressing (finding out a loved one has cancer, a funeral, learning your parents are getting divorced). One chapter was even traumatic.

The book as a whole has a heavy feel to it. Yes, I know there are a few good things in Francie's life, and Francie herself seems to be at peace--mostly--with everything that has happened. But. It felt like it was weighed down with dozens of issues. Perhaps because the chapters tended to focus more on the dramatic, and not enough on the day-to-day, ordinary moments where you just are.

The last chapter or two had a different feel to them. The chapter where she goes to college seems over-the-top rosy and optimistic. (Perhaps how a ten year old might fantasize about college?)

Because of how this one unfolds, it seems almost impossible for any character to be truly developed except for the main character. The characterization lacks something, in my opinion. It's not that I didn't like Francie. I did. But I wanted more depth and substance in general to all the people in her life.

For readers who love, love, love drama and more drama, this series may be a must. Each book tackles an issue or two or three. The good news is that if you hated The Long Way Home, there is a chance that you might still enjoy Best Kept Secret more.

The book is set primarily in New Jersey. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
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  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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